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Donna Hay Challenge #9 – Goat’s cheese, lemon and pea pasta

If anything became very clear during challenge #8 is that 1. I should not make it too difficult, 2. It helps if I also make the recipe first. 😉 Ok, boys and girls, the message has come across and I will make sure I prepare the recipe myself first and I will not make it too difficult to do. Given my own current quest for health I chose a healthy recipe for the 9th challenge. A recipe that is quick and simple and perfect for summer and a photo that I hope is not too difficult to handle.


The image comes from the summer issue of Donna Hay’s issue 55 (febr 2011). The photo is taken by William Meppem and styling by David Morgan.

First a note on props. Please note that recreating the image is NOT about having the exact same props. Look at the photo and try to asses what the photographer wanted you to see and feel when looking at the image. Is it simple, where does the light come from and how does the food make me feel? Then try and translate that into an image you feel represents the one above. If you do not have an all white frying pan,  you can use a white bowl for instance that has roughly the same shape and/or size.


Ok, so what are the things I encountered when shooting the pasta. I do have a frying pan with a white interior but the pan was too large for the size of the pasta, making it look weird. Stuffing the pan didn’t seem like a good idea either. You can see the pan attempt below. Looking back at the photos the size and shape of the frying pan attempt is actually closer to the original… Should have gone with that option I guess! O and the outsides of the pan are bright green too.


Looking at the light in the photo you can see that it is very soft with very little shadows, but you can see that there is a little more light coming from the right upper side. I shot mine initially indoors by the window, but felt the shadows where too strong. Moving it a little back from the window didn’t help sufficiently so I actually made the first shot in the little white pan outside.

Indoor setup. Window on the right
Indoor setup. Window on the right

The image above shows the indoors setup where I filled the light in at the front with a piece of foam wrapped in aluminium foil. Now it wouldn’t have been in that position while taking the shot but since I wasn’t holding it I just placed it in roughly the same position I used. This is the setup for the frying pan shot also.

The image below is the setup in the garden. In terms of that famous blue light you see in the original, I tried to recreate it but somehow I like the light better in the frying pan shot. But hey the purpose was to get the same feeling, right? O and don’t pay any attention to that ghastly gardentable… There will be a new one sometime soon.

Don't mind our horrible outdoors table..
Don’t mind our horrible outdoors table..

Now I thought it would be fun to also do a shot the way I would have done it, without the challenge and that would have looked nothing like the original and more something like the image below… 🙂


So yes, by all means try and recreate the look and feel of the original and then play around with how you would have done it in your own style. I’d be curious to see what you come up with! O and don’t forget to enjoy the dish too. Very garlicky but nice!


So now you want the recipe:

Goat's cheese, lemon and pea pasta


  • 400g penne
  • 420g frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind (finely grated)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 240g goat's cheese (crumbled)
  • 50g rocket (arugula, chopped)
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper


Cook the pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes, adding the peas in at the last minute, or until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Add the garlic, lemon rind, lemon juice and olive oil and toss well to coat. Add the goat's cheese, rocket, salt and pepper and mix until just combined.
Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine


And then.. the rules of the game:

If you would like to participate in the challenge the rules are pretty simple and please follow them as per below:

  • Once a month (on the 3rd of the month) I will give you a recipe plus the accompanying photo out of the Donna Hay magazine. I will try to make it seasonal but can’t promise anything.
  • You have that same month to produce your post. You can post it any day you like just as long as you finish it before the end of that month at the latest.
  • You have to  produce that recipe, alterations to the recipe are allowed to make sure any dietary restrictions are met. But only minor changes!
  • You have to cook and STYLE the recipe trying to replicate the photo as best as you can. If you think you can do a better job then the original photo, by all means feel free to make your own changes to the styling.
  • Shoot the dish and then write a blog post about it. It would be great to add notes on how you took the photo and how you styled the dish,  so that other people can learn too.
  • Link back to this months blog post about the challenge and link back to the Donna Hay Challenge page here
  • Leave a message on the post that is up here for that month, saying that you completed the challenge and link to the post on your site so others can find it too.
  • If you want to use the original photo in your blog post as well as the recipe be sure to link back to the Donna Hay website plus the photographers website. They will both always be mentioned in the monthly challenge posts.

Each month a winner will be picked who will be featured in the Hall of Fame page. If you like you can add a badge to your site saying that you are taking part in this competition. The badge is featured below and should link back to this post.

Banner_donnahay22Above all this challenge is about having fun styling and photographing a dish by taking Donna Hay as our great example. You can join all months or whenever you feel like joining in. Using an example of the great photographers that Donna works with, I always find that it is a good learning experience to see how did they light the scene, where does the light come from and how did they manage to make it look so beautiful. Try and analyze all of that and then come up with your own version.
Overview of the challenges sofar below.


While taking food photos is all about finding your own style and certainly not copying anyone else, it does help to analyze how your hero’s do their job. It’s about learning to light and style a scene properly. In no way am I trying to suggest you copy another person style. Find your own unique style! This challenge is just a tool to help you along the way..

Deadline June 30th!

Once you’re done leave your link in the below linky tool and let me know you’ve done so. All entries will need to be approved first.


About the author

Simone van den Berg

Food- and travelblogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Loves to taste good food the world over.
She also loves to share travelstories, delicious recipes and ok, cat pictures too. She sometimes feels the need to get really healthy for a while, always mingled with periods of insanely delicious sweets and other decadent treats.
Lives together with Tom and their two cats; Humphrey and Buffy.
Profession: Food photographer


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Welcome In Simone’s Kitchen

Hi. My name is Simone and I believe you can change your life by eating the right foods. I am a certified holistic nutritional coach, food photographer, recipe developer and story teller.
I am based in the Netherlands.

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